Put Off Bitterness

  • 12 August 2019

Years ago, there was a lady who hated us. She lied about us, trying to get others to believe we were immoral, unethical people. She told some of these lies to business clients, hoping to deter them from working with us. We never heard anything good from her, only evil. Thankfully, God covered us, and this lady’s plans came to naught and eventually we stopped hearing from her–both directly and indirectly. Recently, I found out that her husband is dying and probably has been for a while. Whereas the world would say it serves her right, I pray for her frequently, that God will give her the strength she needs during this trying season.

I don’t share this story to pat myself on the back. Believe me, there are areas in which I struggle, but I am grateful when God gives me a heart of love for others instead of hatred, bitterness, or a desire for revenge. This is what separates Christians from the world.

Life is full of bitter, angry people, and unfortunately Christians are not exempt–both from receiving and exhibiting this behavior. Yet Scripture admonishes us to put away bitterness, anger, wrath, and slander (Ephesians 4:31). This doesn’t mean that you will never feel these emotions, but, if you are full of God’s Spirit, you will not let them overcome you.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:13-15). That would be a frightening prayer for some to pray.

I disagree with those who say that, if you have truly forgiven a person, you will restore the relationship. This is an area that you must be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove (Matthew 10:16). If a person is unrepentant, you may need to keep your distance, but you can refuse to slander or wish evil on him or her. There are also times when you allow people into your life that God did not put there (maybe an unsaved boyfriend or girlfriend, someone on whom you were codependent, etc.). You are not obligated to continue these relationships just because they were in your life once upon a time. However, if the offender is a family member or a close friend who truly repents of the pain they have caused, you may need to be ready to restore that person and put the past behind you. Again, be in the Spirit on this since there are good fakers in the world, but err on the side of mercy instead of judgment. God will judge the situation in due time.

The problem with writing on a topic like this is that I’m bound to be tested, and forgiveness is not always easy. But it is important if we desire to have our own sins forgiven. If you are struggling with bitterness or hatred toward someone who has wronged you, pray daily for God to take those sinful feelings from you. Pray for the other person. You can even pray that God will move him or her toward repentance. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Then lie down and sleep in peace, knowing that the Lord will make you to rest in safety (Psalm 4:8).

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